Monday, March 31, 2008

Diana, Dodi and Hasnat

Hello! Magazine reported recently that Princess Diana's former boyfriend Hasnat Khan testified at the never ending inquest to determine whether or not the late Princess's death was accidental or part of a conspiracy several weeks ago via a statement that Diana broke up with him not the other way around as been reported in various biographies since her death. He insists that she came back from her first vacation with Dodi and the Fayeds and told him that it was over. In Tina Brown's recent book, The Diana Chronicles, she stated that she had it from reliable sources that it was the other way around. Presumably Dr. Khan's statement must have been taken under oath, so he would have no reason to lie.

"I think Diana finally realised that (he) could give her all the things I could not," wrote the doctor. "He had money and could provide the necessary security."

Hasnat added, "She wanted to be with someone who was happy to be seen with her in public and she could do that with Dodi."

Hasnat and the Princess met in 1995 at The Royal Brompton Hospital when she went to visit the husband of her acupuncturist who had just suffered a massive hemmorhage during heart surgery. Dr. Khan, a senior resident, assisted with the surgery and Diana was instantly smitten with his warm, expressive eyes. Unlike most men, he seemed to take no notice of her at first. She spent the next 18 days using her visits to the hospital as an excuse to run into Hasnat. After accepting an invitation to go for a meal at his uncle's home, the relationship turned into a love-affair. "After this our friendship turned into a relationship. We had a normal sexual relationship," he said. Diana would sneak into the hospital and watch him perform surgeries, sitting up in the gallery (the way the surgeons do on Grey's Anatomy).

According to his testimony, Princess Diana loved to do "everyday things" that we ordinary people take for granted, like going out to pubs. During their relationship, they discussed marriage, and Diana told him that she desperately wanted to have a daughter. "Emotionally she felt she was still young," wrote Hasnat. "She wanted a husband to be there for her, to have a normal relationship with him."

For two years, Diana managed to keep the relationship relatively secret from the public. When a photographer noticed her arriving at the Royal Brompton Hospital with Hasnat Khan worked one night, she spun him a story about visiting deathly ill patients several nights a week. The headlines in the tabloids led to jokes of people instead of adding 'do not resuscitate clauses' adding 'do not call Princess Diana clauses'.

But Diana was serious about this relationship. She called Hasnat 'the One,' 'Mr. Wonderful,' she was convinced that he was her soul mate. She loved the times when they could be alone and she could be domestic just like any other woman. Tina Brown writes in her new biography that Diana loved to go to Hasnat's flat to iron his shirts, vaccuming and clean. She would even attempt to cook for him, having discovered Marks and Spencer's ready to prepare meals (I've had them and they are delicious and easy to cook!). And unlike her relationship with Oliver Hoare or Will Carling, her love was returned. She learned everything there was to know about cardiology, keeping a copy of Gray's Anatomy (not the TV show) on her night table. She starting watching Casualty, a nighttime TV soap set in an emergency room at a hospital.

He spent time with her sons, talking to William about his future aspirations. Unlike most men, he didn't want anything from her except to be with her. She even offered to buy him a new car but he turned her down. The relationship was so serious that Diana actually contemplated converting to Islam. She had her butler, Paul Burrell investigate the possibility of the two of them secretly marrying, perhaps in her Kensington Palace apartments. She had become good friends with Jemima Goldsmith, the daughter of Sir James Goldsmith, who had married Pakistani cricketer Imran Khan and moved to Lahore to be with him. She spent time in Pakistan wtih Jemima under the guise of helping to support Imran Khan's cancer hospital, but really to decide whether or not she could actually live the life of a normal Pakistani wife. She even went so far as to drop in on his family in Pakistan bearing gifts, dressed in the traditional Pakistani costume of shalwar kameez and headscarf.

However a marriage between the two of them would have been an impossibility. Not so much because of their cultural backgrounds but because of Diana's emotional neediness. She began to page Hasnat Khan up to twenty times a day. She began to meddle in his career, talking to the renowned heart surgeon Dr. Christian Barnaard about the possibility of Khan getting a job in South Africa. She wanted Khan to schedule his surgeries around her schedule so that he could travel with her. Not the life that any proud man would want to contemplate, being an appendage to celebrity like Diana. Hasnat Khan was and is a very private person, the idea of being subjected to media scrutiny, dealing with the hoardes of photographers that inevitably followed the Princess everywhere was painful to him. Despite his love for her, he knew in his heart that the relationship could never work in the long run.

And his family had other ideas as well. They had already attempted to arrange a marriage for their son with a suitable Pakistani bride. Hasnat Khan is a Pathan, a noble tribe in both Pakistan and Afghanistan (The Kite Runner gives a good example of the different clans that make up modern Afghanistan). The idea of their son marrying a Christian white woman was not in the cards. Diana's mother was also against the relationship, leading Diana to cut out of her life for good. His father was even quoted in the papers stating unquivocably that Hasnat would marry someone from his cultural background.

The end came because Diana wanted to them to come out in public as a couple and Hasnat was reluctant according to Paul Burrell, Diana's butler who now makes a living doing reality TV shows like American Princess. Simone Simmons, Diana's healer (one of several alternative therapists Diana had on the payroll after her seperation, including an astrologer), turned out to be on the payroll of one of the tabloids and had already spilled the beans about her relationship with Hasnat. When Diana was contacted for a statement, she made the mistake of trying to pass it off like a joke, which wounded Hasnat's pride.

Diana told her friends that Hasnat had broken up with her. Was this another case of Diana playing the victim of her circumstances? Sort of "Oh poor me, I can't find a man because I'm a Princess?" Paul Burrell has stated that her break with Hasnat, the man who was apparently the love of her life, was done with the hope that he would turn around and ask her to marry him. Instead she ended up in rebound relationship with Dodi Fayed, with the sole purpose of trying to make Hasnat Khan jealous. That he would get over his feeling that he would be nothing more than an appendage, that her life would get in the way of her career.

Diana had struck up a friendship with Mohammed Al-Fayed through her step-mother Raine Spencer who was on board of directors at Harrods. Mohammed Al-Fayed was rich, he'd bought the former of home of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and turned it into a museum. Along with Harrods and the Ritz Hotel in Paris, Mohammed had tried to buy his way into British society. He'd already been turned down numerous times for a British passport, and been under investigation for his business practices. The chance to host the Princess on a cruise on his yacht the Jonikal must have seemed like a gift from Allah.

Diana was drifting into what Tina Brown calls 'the darkness,' a type of depression that would take over her, leading her to become reckless in her behavior. Along with the end of her relationship with Hasnat Khan, Diana was having to face the fact that her boys were growing up and would be spending more and more time with Charles and his family including the annual holiday at Balmoral in Scotland, leaving her at loose ends. While Diana was still searching for love, Charles seemed to have settled down with Camilla. The final blow that summer was Charles hosting a 50th Birthday party for Camilla at Highgrove, Diana's former home.

So she eagerly accepted Al-Fayed's invitation to spend a few days on his yacht with the boys. To entertain her, Mohammed Al-Fayed summoned his son Dodi to be a companion to her. Despite his engagement to another woman, Dodi dropped everything and joined the cruise. Dodi must have seemed so attractive after a workaholic like Hasnat Khan. Dodi was rich and dabbled in a career as a film producer. He'd gone to school in Switzerland but was an indifferent student. He had credits as an Executive Producer on several films such as Chariots of Fire, but his involvement in those films were minimal at best. Meaning he provided a certain amount of financing and he received a credit on the film. Like Prince Charles, he seemed to have been constantly fighting for the love of his father, who alternately lavished it on him, or withheld it on a whim. He too was a child of divorce, his father having divorced his mother when he was two, winning custody and remarried.

Mohammed Al-Fayed spoiled his son with money and gifts instead of spending time with him. In a way Dodi was as emotionally needy as Diana. His life was controlled by his father's purse strings. Dodi spent most of his time with various hangers-on, spent lavishly on parties and drugs. With no purpose in life, he spent most of his time floating among the various Al-Fayed properties, dating various models. He was the epitome of Eurotrash.

Diana loved all the glitz and glamour of Hollywood and film stars. After all didn't Kevin Costner claim that they had talked about doing a sequel to The Bodyguard with Diana in the starring role? (Does anyone else find that idea as horrific as I do? A real actress, it might work, a real Princess, no way. Not that Queen Elizabeth wouldn't have nipped that idea in the bud real quick). Plus Dodi had plenty of money from his daddy, Mohammed, who would have had no problem opening up the purse strings for his son's relationship with a member of the Royal Family. Dodi must have seemed like a big kid in a way, devoted to the pursuit of pleasure. At one point on that first trip, he bought her an armful of cashmere sweaters in every color in the store.

Still it is doubtful that her relationship with Dodi would have lasted much longer. At first the relationship probably seemed like something out of the Barbara Cartland novels that Diana read by the bagful as a teenager. But there is evidence that Diana was getting a little bored of all the conspicuous consumption. Despite Dodi's money and attentiveness, after awhile, Diana would have looked again for a man with substance like Hasnat Khan. It seems that what she really wanted was someone with a career and a purpose, but who would have lavished attention on her.

Unfortunately men like that are impossible to find. All her life it seemed that she swung between men who lavished affection on her that were lightweights like Dodi and James Hewitt, and strong men who had lives like Oliver Hoare, Hasnat Khan, Prince Charles, men who she could look up to but who weren't about to change their lives for her. Several of her friends have stated that she told them that she wasn't in love with Dodi, that it was just a summer fling. Prince William was not happy with the relationship. According to Tina Brown they even had a row about before her second trip on the yacht. Despite his father's claims that they were engaged, or that Diana was pregnant at the time of her death, it was just a summer fling that ended tragically.

At the time, he was just what she needed, a man who devoted his undivided attention to her. Diana told a friend that "he takes care of me." That he didn't demand anything of her, certainly not intellectually. However, she kept in contact with Hasnat Khan, but the media firestorm just convinced him even more that the relationship would never have worked out. However, Diana reveled in the fact that Palace, the establishment as she called them, was appalled at her behavior. The trip with the Al-Fayeds was her way of stealing focus once again from the Royal Family.

Diana made a point of alerting her friends in the media of where the yacht would be in order for photos to be taken, including the one of her diving into the cool waters of the Mediterranean at the same time that Charles was hosting Camilla. Meanwhile Mohammed Al-Fayed was doing his best to imply that his son's relationship with the Princess was the love story of the century, that rivaled even that of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, whose home he owned on the outskirts of Paris.

Was Dodi even really serious about Diana, given that he had been engaged to another woman when they met? Or was he just following his father's orders, the price that he had to pay for being Mohammed Al-Fayed's son? We'll never know for sure but it appears as if he were just being a loyal son. Of course, he must have enjoyed being in the company of the most famous woman in the world, who wouldn't have been? However, during that first trip on the Jonikal, Dodi had his fiancee Kelly stashed away on another boat. While he paid court to Diana during the day, at night he would sneak off to see another woman. It wasn't until the famous picture of Dodi and Diana kissing on the boat, that Kelly realized that she was being played, that her fiancee was two-timing her with the most famous woman in the world. How could she compete? She couldn't so instead she filed a breach of promise lawsuit against Dodi.

Diana had plans for her life now that she was no longer a member of the Royal Family. She wanted to make documentaries that would spotlight a certain issue to raise awareness. She felt that this was the best way that she could make a difference in the world now that she was free from the shackles of the Royal Family. The plan was that she would highlight an issue, and then make a documentary about it. She had already done a great deal to raise awareness about the problem of landmines (certainly more than Heather Mills). There is a famous picture of Diana walking through a field in Angola, wearing a clear helmet for a documentary for the BBC. It was only after her death, that her work began to be appreciated.

Three people whose lives might have turned out differently if Diana had been thinking clearly that final summer of her life. The tragedy is that Diana had counted on Dodi to protect her and instead he let her down. If they had just stayed at the hotel instead of deciding to try to go back to the Al-Fayed apartment, or never left the apartment in the first place, but Dodi's restlessness and Diana's need for attention led them down a slippery path. Diana might have finally found the love that she was looking for her entire life.

After summing up all the given at the inquest into the death of Diana, Prince of Wales, on Monday, the coroner dismissed Mohamed Al-Fayed's claims there was a plot to kill the late royal. After listening to more than 250 witnesses Lord Justice Scott Baker addressed the conspiracy plot claims, saying: "They are not being pursued because there is not a shred of evidence to support them."

"There is no evidence that the Duke of Edinburgh ordered Diana's execution, and there is no evidence that the security intelligence services or any other government agency organised it," Justice Scott Baker emphasised.

As for Dr. Hasnat Khan, he now lives and works in Malaysia. His marriage to a much younger Pakistani woman from a good family ended after less than two years. Whether it was from incompatibility or having to live in the shadow of Princess Diana, Dr. Khan will not say. Unlike most people who knew the late Princess, he has been remarkably discreet about their relationship and incredibly loyal to her memory.

He stated in a recent interview that since Diana is no longer able to speak for herself, he couldn't in good conscience speak about their relationship further. However from the few statements he has made, it is clear that Princess still looms large in his memory as she does for so many others that knew her.


He does not, however, think that a fountain in London built in the Princess's memory does her justice.

"Creating a fountain is not how you should remember a great person. You put great people up as high as possible. Look at Nelson."


Mohammed Al-Fayed has left Britain behind, leaving now mainly in Switzerland, still insisting that a vast conspiracy existed that killed Diana and his son. There is a shrine to his son and Princess Diana at Harrods, including the ring that to this day he insists was an engagement ring from his son to the Princess.

All her life Diana had been looking for her knight in shining armor, her Prince, someone straight out of a Barbara Cartland novel. Someone to fill the emotional blackhole at her center. She thought she had found that man in Prince Charles, but instead she fell in love with a man as emotionally wounded as her. What she never realized was that only person who could rescue her from 'the darkness' was herself.

Sources:

The Diana Chronicles - Tina Brown
The Way We Were - Paul Burrell
Sex with Kings - Eleanor Herman
Diana, Her True Story - Andrew Morton

5 comments:

Jasia said...

Wonderful, wonderful article. I enjoyed it very much. The legend that was Diana lives on in my memory. It's pleasant to revisit it from time to time. Thanks!

Elizabeth Kerri Mahon said...

You're welcome. I've been thinking about her a lot lately with the inquest. I hope that she's looking down on her sons and that's she proud of them. She gave a lot of joy to a lot of people while she lived.

Anonymous said...

I would think that after all of this time, they would let the Princess finally rest in peace. This can't be easy for William and Harry.

Caroline said...

If we didn't know better, we'd think the story of Diana's life and loves to be the figment of a novelist's imagination, and an especially febrile imagination at that.

As I was reading through your piece, my thoughts turned to F Scott Fitzgerald's novel "Tender Is The Night", about a female mental patient (but a rich and beautiful one) who sets her cap at the psychiatrist who was her doctor. She finally snags him, resulting in his ultimate professional and personal ruin. This may have well been Dr Khan's fate had he married the mentally unstable Diana.

And of course the other literary analogy is Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, who because she was a rich and respectable married woman, who fell in love with, and committed adultery with a ne'er-do-well army officer, was destined to die young and tragically for her marital "sins", as Diana died young and tragically for hers.

Elizabeth Kerri Mahon said...

Caroline, interesting parallels between Diana and Anna, as well as Nicole Driver. I agree that Diana would probably have ruined Hasnat's career if they had tried to get married or came out as a couple. She was so needy emotionally, like Anna, that I don't think that any man could have filled that emotional hole. Only her charity work and the love of millions seemed really to do it, which is sad in and of itself.

I agree Anonymous that this inquest was just ridiculous and was probably incredibly painful to the Princes. Hopefully this will be the end of it. There never was any proof of a conspiracy to kill Diana, no matter Mohammed Al-Fayed wants to believe. I doubt that the Palace really would have had Diana killed, just because she was dating Dodi. No matter how embarrassing the Palace may have found Diana, she was still the mother of a future King of England, and as such they really tried to protect her, but she didn't want police protection because she felt they spied on her.